Easy Beef Nachos

published May 3, 2024

Easy nachos loaded with seasoned beef, refried beans, cheese, and the best toppings.

Serves4 to 8

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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If you aren’t serving nachos for dinner every week, you’re missing out on a guaranteed weeknight win. (And we all need one of those!) Warm and crispy tortilla chips are piled high on a sheet pan and layered with seasoned ground beef, refried beans, melty cheese, and classic toppings like fresh salsa, sour cream, and homemade guacamole. In this recipe, we’ll show you how to build the easiest beef nachos so that practically every chip is a perfect bite.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s highly delicious and low-effort! By relying on a mix of homemade and store-bought ingredients, you can make the easiest, most delicious beef nachos with as much (or as little) time and effort as you have.
  • It includes a smart trick for easier eating. The fatal flaw of most nacho recipes is that the beef and beans fall off the chips, while the cheese sauce turns the chips soggy. This recipe relies on a seasoned mixture of ground beef and refried beans that stick to the chips and enough shredded cheese for the melty cheese pulls that you’re expecting.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Key Ingredients in Nachos

  • Tortilla chips: Nachos need a sturdy chip to hold all of those delicious toppings, so save the thin and crispy tortilla chips for dipping. 
  • Ground beef: The trick to the best browned ground beef, is to let the meat sit and sizzle without touching it constantly. The undisturbed contact with the pan helps the meat develop flavor and color. 
  • Refried beans: Whole beans tend to tumble off of the chips before they make it to your mouth. Mixing a can of refried beans with the beef helps the hearty toppings stick to the chips. 
  • Taco seasoning: Use your favorite packet of store-bought taco seasoning or make your own homemade taco seasoning mix.
  • Cheese: Shredded cheese melts easily in the oven and won’t soften the chips (as often happens with queso blanco or nacho cheese sauce). 
  • Toppings: Serve the nachos as-is or have fun by adding a mix of homemade and store-bought toppings like salsa (we love this blender salsa), classic guacamole or sliced avocados, sour cream, fresh or pickled jalapeños, and fresh cilantro.

How to Make Nachos

  1. Make the seasoned ground beef and refried bean mixture. Brown the ground beef; add taco seasoning, refried beans, and water; and cook until warmed through.
  2. Layer chips, cheese, and the beef-and-bean mixture. Arrange half of the chips on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet (that makes for easy cleanup). Dollop half of the beef-and-bean mixture and sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the chips, then repeat with another layer of chips, beef, beans, and cheese.
  3. Bake. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the chips are toasted and the cheese melts. Serve the nachos as-is or add as many toppings as you like.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Helpful Swaps

  • Shredding a block of cheese delivers the best melty strands, but with so much flavor packed onto every chip you probably won’t notice the difference. So, go ahead and use pre-shredded cheese, like a Mexican-blend cheese, as a shortcut. 
  • Making homemade seasoning mixes is a great way to consolidate jars of herbs and spices, but a store-bought packet of taco seasoning will deliver the same great flavors.
  • You can substitute ground turkey for ground beef with no change to the recipe instructions.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • The beef-and-bean mixture can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Reheat on the stovetop before adding to the nachos so that it is easier to distribute over the chips and is warm enough for serving. 
  • This recipe makes enough to serve a crowd, so if you’re serving fewer people or smaller appetites, you can freeze half of the beef-and-bean mixture for another night and assemble with half of the chip and cheese amounts.
  • Nachos are best eaten immediately and do not store well in the refrigerator once assembled.

What to Serve with Nachos

Nachos Recipe

Easy nachos loaded with seasoned beef, refried beans, cheese, and the best toppings.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces

    shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican-blend cheese, or a combination (about 3 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1

    (16-ounce) can refried beans

  • 1

    (1-ounce) packet or 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning

  • 1/2 cup

    water

  • 1

    (12- to 16-ounce) bag tortilla chips, not thin and crispy

Topping options:

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil if desired for easy cleanup.

  2. If needed, grate 12 ounces sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3 cups), or measure out 3 cups store-bought shredded cheese.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and cook, breaking the beef up with a wooden spoon into crumbles and stirring occasionally, until cooked through and browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans, 1 (3-ounce) packet taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water. Stir until combined and warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  4. Arrange 1/2 (12- to 16-ounce) bag of tortilla chips on the baking sheet in an even layer with some overlap. Evenly dollop half of the beef mixture over the chips, then sprinkle half of the shredded cheese evenly over the top. Repeat layering the remaining chips, beef mixture, and cheese.

  5. Bake until the cheese melts, the edges of the chips begin to turn golden, and the nachos are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Top evenly with desired toppings such as salsa, avocado or guacamole, pickled or fresh jalapeños, sour cream, and fresh cilantro leaves.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The beef and bean mixture can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat over low heat until warmed through before assembling the nachos.

Serving size variation: This recipe can easily be halved for serving a smaller group. Prepare the full amount of the beef mixture and freeze half for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and warm before adding to nachos.

Storage: Nachos are best eaten immediately, but leftover components can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.